Bennings tells Windows to go get some keys from Gary. The body of the strange, two-faced corpse they found before, moves under its wrappings. When Windows returned, blood drips from the table, oozing to the floor, where tentacles writhe around poor half-naked Bennings, strangling him, changing him.
When everyone catches up to Bennings he’s outside. He looks the same, except for his arms, which are still half-assimilated, stumpy, gooey appendages. And then he howls, and it’s a howl that is like the wind through an evacuated layer of hell, like Donald Sutherland’s scream in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). The gasoline gets tipped and up he goes, the first human death in the camp, burning in the cold dark of the Antarctic night.
Masterfully shot, with beautiful choreography and that awful, alien sound, Carpenter captures the shape of things to come with this moment. We can never go back, the thing is in our midst; we know it was trying to imitate Bennings. Nobody is safe now, and the danger could come from within.
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7. Blair and the Radios
“You don’t understand! That thing wanted to be us!”
Having run computer simulations (itself ironic as the thing simulates human beings), Blair goes wild, smashing up the radios, taking out the helicopter, the tractor, and every other way out of the camp he can find. If there’s any way back to civilisation, the human race goes under. He must trap it.
Wilford Brimley superbly captures the fine line between a sane man and one out of his mind. He speaks the most sense; the thing cannot be allowed to escape, under any circumstances. But his violent manner, bordering on psychopathy, and the terrified reactions of the others, really highlights the blurring lines of the film’s thematics. Black and white no longer exist; we are in the grey zone of what is really true, and right now, is Blair really sane or has he already cracked?
6. Helicopter Dog Chase
If you speak Norwegian, this opening obviously doesn’t have the same impact for the rest of the world as it does for you. Still, whether you understand the Norwegian pilot’s warnings to Outpost 51 or not, the opening sight of a helicopter chasing a dog across the snow, shooting at it with relentless fury, is burned into every moviegoer’s mind from the first time of watching it.
Coming like a bolt of madness on the American base, it drives us right into the heart of the chaos from the word go. Contrasted brilliantly with the scenes of peace and recreation at the outpost – be it playing ping-pong in the rec room or pouring J&B Yellow Label into a chess computer out of frustration – the violence and anger of the helicopter chase, along with its obvious mysteries (why are they trying to shoot a dog, and shooting at the camp trying to stop them?), drives questions into our brains with tremendous force. One can’t help but to be intrigued and, from the panic and eagerness of the Norwegian men, terrified for what’s to come.